ThinkstockPhotos-478896468It’s happened again.  Yesterday we learned of another family that has been broken up because one person in the marriage says, “I don’t love you anymore.”

There’s a common misconception that married couples will always “feel” love for one another.  Today’s Marriage Monday looks at this myth and what to do about it if it happens to you.

Mark: If you’ve been hanging around here very long, you know that Jill and I have had our ups and downs over the years.  We’ve hit the lowest of lows when we both felt no love for one another.

Jill:This was a very scary place to be for both of us.  And we both feared that “falling out of love” meant that our relationship was over.

Mark: When we sought out help through professional counseling, we learned that our experience was actually quite common.  Feelings of love can come and go in a marriage.  That’s real life and real marriage.

Jill:There are certainly relationships that never experience the “falling out of love” feeling.  If that describes you, you need to thank God for that right now.

Mark: However, if you or your spouse has ever felt like the love has left your relationship, you need to know that is normal.  It happens to real people and real marriages.  You also need to know that you can put the love back in an empty relationship. Your marriage can survive the ebb and flow of feelings.

Jill: You also need to know that another relationship is not the answer.  Because the same thing will likely happen down the road in another relationship.  All relationships have ups and downs.  Don’t run to a new relationship because you feel “love” or “passion” there and you don’t feel it at home.  Those feelings will wane someday, as well.

Mark: So what do you do when you no longer have that “loving feeling?”  Here are seven steps to take to redeem the love:

Seek help. Don’t try to navigate this challenge alone.  Help can come from a professional counselor, a minister, or even a trusted couple that is a little further down the marriage road than you are.  Sometimes, help can also come from a friend who will help hold you accountable to think and do what is right.

Evaluate your thought life. What are the thoughts that you think about your spouse? If they are primarily negative thoughts, begin to “take your thoughts captive” (2 Corinthians 10:5).  Apologize to God for believing lies about your spouse.  Replace those lies with truth about the strengths of him or her.

Choose to love. Love is a choice…not a feeling.  Begin to act lovingly to your spouse.  If you need help making this happen from a practical perspective, pick up a copy of the book The Love Dare.

Invest in your marriage. Work to deepen your communication.  Turn off the television, step away from the computer, and spend time with your spouse.  Step into your spouse’s world and help them with a project or even with household tasks like dinner, dishes, or the laundry.

Re-engage in your relationship. If you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling, you’ve likely let your eyes and your heart wander away from your marriage.  Re-engage in the relationship you’ve got.  You may not feel like it in the beginning, but you can still choose to do the right thing.

Grow up. Remember that God uses marriage to mature you.  Maturity often happens when we resist the flesh (what we want to do) and pursue the Spirit (what God wants us to do).  It’s important to note that in I Corinthians 13, known as the “love chapter,” verse 11 says, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” This is God’s call to us that our love needs to grow up. It’s not a feeling like culture says it is. It’s a decision, like God says it is.

Recognize the true enemy.  Your spouse is not the enemy.  There is a spiritual battle raging against your marriage.  The Bible says that Satan divides and destroys.  Recognize the reality of the battle and fight it with God’s truth and prayer.

What about you?  Have you ever lost that “lovin feeling?” What did you do to re-ignite the love in your marriage?

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